What is malware?

‘Malware’ is a blanket expression covering any malicious software that has been purposely designed to damage a legitimate programmable device, network or service.

So all users must appreciate how to identify this menace however it may appear, and know what to do to safeguard themselves against its worst impacts.

Malware is short for ‘malicious software’, and, unfortunately, it’s able to infect machines in a bewildering number of different ways.

These include (but are not limited to):

  • Viruses – Probably the most familiar and common form of malware. They are transmitted by making copies of themselves.
  • Worms – These are very similar – they can replicate without human interaction, from one computer to another.
  • Trojans – These are typically disguised as legitimate software, in the manner of the ancient myth about the Trojan horse.
  • Spyware – This malware transmits personal information, including, for example, credit card details.
  • Ransomware – This holds computer files hostage until you pay the hacker a fee. (It’s also called scareware.)

What are the adverse impacts of malware?

Unfortunately, there are myriad ways malware can have a negative impact on a business, and, equally unfortunately, these effects are being felt every day.

Malware can:

  • Disrupt computer and IT processes and disable services and business operations
  • Delete, steal or hold to ransom valuable business or sensitive personal data, in the worst cases
  • Diminishes network performance and break down infrastructure
  • It can control system applications

What can you do to protect yourself against malware?

The good news is that there are several things you can do to prevent malware from infecting your business systems.

Realistically, you need a blend of personal vigilance and awareness plus well-designed protective tools.

In terms of risk awareness, ensure everyone in your organisation knows to be careful before they open attachments, click on links in phishing emails or visit websites with which they are not familiar.

Passwords need to be strong and unique. Equally, don’t share sensitive information with a website whose URL doesn’t include ‘https’. People should also know to look out for poor grammar or syntax which can be a give-away of a malware email.

Another key point is to keep all your software as up-to-date as possible, while applying all security patches. Download any update your Operating System prompts you for.

Additionally, you should never post confidential details such as the city of your birth, your mother’s maiden name or your birthday anywhere online.

Finally, back up your data as often as possible, ideally daily.



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If the worst happens …

If malware has infected your systems, it’s important to remain calm – and act quickly and methodically so that it spreads no further.

Here are a few starting points:

  • Change passwords on accounts with admin rights
  • Disconnect and shut down infected computers from the network – and switch off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for other devices linked to the network until everything has been dealt with
  • If you store sensitive customer information, alert the relevant legal authorities
  • You’ll also need to talk to customers about what has happened – honestly, quickly and fully

What to look for in a malware solution

Most businesses are looking for a number of key elements in their malware protection, including comprehensive safeguarding, reliability, a solution that updates regularly and minimal impact on system performance.


How we can help

We at Epoq IT have teamed up with IT Governance on Cyber Essentials, a certification scheme from the UK government which assists small and medium-sized businesses in reaching a high level of cyber security through essential measures such as strong password protection, anti-malware solutions and firewalls.

It’s all kept simple and budget-friendly, with a focus on having the right policies and systems in place to protect against new and returning threats in the long term.

A number of affordable options are available – learn more here.

Talk to us at Epoq IT about protecting yourself against the very real threat of malware – and being seen to be doing so.



James Clark

Written by James Clark

I focus on continuous improvement to the way IT Service Management is delivered to many SME clients. I’m enthusiastic about enhancing the efficiency of IT processes to support business objectives.